Leading Thai virologist warns of third wave, says herd immunity will take 2 years at current vaccination rate

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A prominent Thai virologist says the Kingdom could be hit by a third and even a fourth wave of Covid-19, warning that rapid vaccination is the only solution. Yong Poovorawan from Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University says the latest resurgence of the virus in Bangkok is an example of the risk the country faces. Yesterday, the number of infections associated with nightlife establishments in the capital rose to 250. As a result, pubs and other entertainment venues in 3 districts have been shut for at least 2 weeks.

Yong says Thailand is likely to experience a steep increase in Covid-19 numbers this year, due to people becoming complacent about the risk and letting their guard down. He says nightlife venues are a particular risk, given that noise levels mean people have to stand close to each other and shout to be heard. Furthermore, revellers tend to move from one party to another, potentially spreading the virus.

According to a Nation Thailand report, Yong says a lot of time, money, and effort will go into curtailing the spread of infection during the forthcoming Songkran holiday, when millions will travel across the country to visit their home provinces. Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul says there will be no ban on people travelling to visit their elderly relatives but says travelling to party is strongly discouraged.

Meanwhile, Yong is concerned about Thailand’s vaccination progress, saying at the current inoculation rate, it could take the Kingdom 2 years to achieve herd immunity. In the interim, third and fourth waves of Covid-19 may strike.

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Nation Thailand quotes data from Bloomberg that indicates that as of April 2, only 0.3% of Thais (204,642 people) have been inoculated since mass vaccination began on February 28.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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